Feb 13, 2023

USCIS Genealogy Program Fee Fight (Again)

The following was written by Rich Venezia, a member of the The Records Not Revenue Team:

Here we go again! A few years ago, I founded Records Not Revenue to combat U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)‘ outrageous proposed fee hikes to their Genealogy Program. 

USCIS has again proposed substantial increases to the fees required to access historical records held by the Genealogy Program. Many of these records should already be available to the public at the National Archives.

As you may or may not know, USCIS holds tens of millions of records of 19th- and 20th-century immigrants to the United States. These records are unique and can be found nowhere else. USCIS now wants to raise these fees to as high as $340 for a single document. This comes when the wait times for requests and customer service has never been worse.

Please make your voice heard and help stop this fee increase by submitting a comment about the proposed rule. Comments are due March 6th!

The Records Not Revenue website has been updated with information on the proposed rule, a summary of the issues, and comment starters to get you thinking. Please follow the below steps to take action:

Step 1Review the proposed rule here, and jump to the Genealogy Program section here. You can also read the Summary of the Issues on our website.

Step 2Write your comments, addressing the issues listed on the website or any issue you think is important. See comment starters on our website.

Step 3Send your comments BY MONDAY 6 MARCH 2023 to

a.     Federal Rulemaking Portal and refer to DHS Docket No. USCIS-2021-0010-0001. Follow instructions for submitting comments; and

b.     If a US resident or citizen, save and send a copy of your comments to your US Senators and Representative, and refer to DHS Docket No. USCIS-2021-0010-0001. Tell them you care about preserving access to federal records!

You do not need to be a US resident nor citizen to submit a public comment. Any interested party can make their voice heard.

The more individual and unique comments USCIS receives on this proposed rule, the better. Please share our website with your local genealogical and historical societies and anyone else who may be interested in submitting a comment. If you are on the Board of a genealogical society, we would very much appreciate you sending an e-blast to your members.

We are also doing two webinars over the next couple of weeks to discuss this topic and walk folks through the issues and the comment process. Our event for JewishGen is Wed 02/15 at 2 PM EST (free to register) and the event for NGS MemberConnects is Wed 02/22 at 8 PM EST (registration is for NGS members only, I believe).

Thank you for taking action! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out. 

 Rich Venezia

The Records Not Revenue team

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